The other day while at a recent gathering, I began discussing with some friends exactly what it is I do. Explaining public relations to a group of people with no previous knowledge of the field is difficult and takes you down many different bunny trails of discussions. “Oh, public relations is like advertising,” said one of my well-meaning friends, trying to help me out by likening PR to something that most people have a pretty good understanding of.
“Well no, it’s not exactly like advertising,” I corrected. I paused. “It’s really about forming positive relationships with the media so that they will want to cover your client in their newspaper, magazine, radio or TV station. It can also be a management function where public relations professionals guide companies on how to craft their image or how to repair it in the event of a crisis.”
“In a lot of ways,” I continued, “it’s like schmoozing. You network with people and make friends in all sorts of areas, because in the PR field, you never know when you will need them. If you don’t have good relationships in PR, you’re doomed to failure in this business.”
“OK,” said another friend. “So it’s like butt kissing?”
I laughed. “I wouldn’t call it that.” And the conversation moved on…
I think the art of schmoozing (really a fancy schmancy term for networking) can be an exercise in sincerity and can make you many friends. I am a complete believer. And all it takes is just a little bit of effort on your part. One of the reasons I have been able to keep friends over the years, even ones that are far away, is because I remembered to make that short phone call or that quick e-mail to let them know I should still be on their radar. The reason why I have a great job is because I networked with someone who saw potential in me and gave me a chance. Networking is a golden key to success in any profession.
Guy Kawasaki has an excellent post on schmoozing here. His blog is one of my faves and if you haven’t already heard of it, start reading! His posts are gems of wisdom.